The prayer that was addressed to the lady of Puritan Grange became the subject of much debate of great consideration, and I may say also of lengthened prayer. To Mrs. Bolton this position of godmother implied much of the old sacred responsibility which was formerly attached to it, and which Robert Bolton, like other godfathers and godmothers of the day, had altogether ignored. She had been already partly brought round, nearly persuaded, in regard to the acceptance of John Caldigate as her son-in-law. It did not occur to her to do other than hate him. How was it possible that such a woman should do other than hate the man who had altogether got the better of her as to the very marrow of her life, the very apple of her eye? But she was alive to her duty towards her daughter; and when she was told that the man was honest in his dealings, well-to-do in the world, a professing Christian who was constant in his parish church, she did not know how to maintain her opinion, that in spite of all this, he was an unregenerate castaway. Therefore, although she was determined still to hate him, she had almost made up her mind to enter his house. With these ideas she wrote a long letter to Hester, in which she promised to have herself taken out to Folking in order that she might be present as godmother at the baby’s baptism. She would lunch at Folking, but must return to Chesterton before dinner. Even this was a great thing gained.
Then it was arranged that Daniel Bolton should stand as second godfather in place of his brother Robert.
A Stranger in Cambridge
‘I am sorry you will not come out to us to-morrow.’ On the day before the christening, which was at last fixed for a certain Tuesday in the middle of February, John Caldigate went into Cambridge, and at once called upon the attorney at his office. This he did partly instigated by his own feelings, and partly in compliance with his wife’s wishes. Before that letter had come he and his brother-in-law had been fast friends; and now, though for a day or two he had been angry with what he had thought to be unjustifiable interference, he regretted the loss of such a friend. More than three months had now passed since the letter had come, but his mind was far from being at ease, and he felt that if trouble should come it would be very well for him to have Robert Bolton on his side.
‘Margaret is going,’ said the attorney.
‘Why do you not bring her?’
’Days are days with me, my boy. I can’t afford to give up a morning for every baby that is born.’
’That of course may be true, and if that is the reason, I have nothing more to say.’ As he spoke he looked in his brother-in-law’s face, so as almost to prevent the possibility of continued pretence.
‘Well, Caldigate, it isn’t the reason altogether,’ said the other. ’If you would have allowed it to pass without further explanation so would I. But if the truth must be spoken in so many words, I will confess that I would rather not go out to Folking till I am sure we shall be no more troubled by your friends in Australia.’